Weber State vs. Portland State 01

Weber State's Jerrick Harding (10) dives for the ball past Portland State's Michael Nuga (1) in the first half of a men's NCAA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

OGDEN — It had a familiar tinge to it when, with 30 seconds left, Holland Woods drove the paint for Portland State, was cut off by Brekkott Chapman helping under the basket, and flipped a pass well past the top of the key to Deante Strickland.

Portland State was 3 of 18 from the 3-point line to that point but it felt recognizable when Strickland rose up for a long-ball late in Thursday’s contest at the Dee Events Center.

Think East Carolina’s Akeem Richmond in the 2013 CIT title game at the buzzer. Or perhaps Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey from deep with one minute left in 2015 to erase a 15-point deficit and send a game to overtime — which EWU would then win to clinch the Big Sky title.

Strickland’s deep 3 was just as pure, putting Portland State up 74-72 with 24 seconds left. Jerrick Harding couldn’t convert a tough drive on the other end and the Vikings escaped Ogden with a 76-75 win.

“I didn’t think we respected the game very well tonight with our approach to the game,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “They were the more aggressive team ... and when you’re just a little bit off, stuff like that happens. Those shots go in at the end of the game.”

Despite PSU (9-11, 4-5 Big Sky) — and particularly forward Jamie Orme — spending much of its comeback diving to the basket and converting layups at the rim, Weber State (13-8, 7-3) had its chances late.

Harding converted a three-point play to put WSU up 72-71 with 1:56 left, taking away PSU’s first lead since it led 1-0 to open the game.

Cody John then stifled a driving Woods, who missed a tough floater. At the other end, Chapman missed the front end of a one-and-one bonus trip to the foul line for WSU.

Harding shuffled defensively to stop a driving Michael Nuga, who fumbled the ball out of bounds. But at the other end, a driving Harding found Cody John open for a corner 3, which he missed — setting up Strickland’s big bucket.

Before Harding hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Portland State had outscored Weber State 30-14 over the final 12 minutes of the game, erasing what had been a 58-46 lead for the home team.

Weber State vs. Portland State 02

Weber State's Cody John (5) goes up for a layup while guarded by Portland State's Derek Brown (0) in the first half of a men's NCAA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.

“They were a good team and they wanted it worse than we did tonight,” senior Zach Braxton said. “We’ve got to grow up and say ... ‘we can’t take things for granted,’ because every game — I feel this especially — we’ve got 10 games left in conference play and then I’m gone. It’s important to me that as a group, we come out there and do the best we can every night. We didn’t tonight.”

Orme’s second-half surge led him to 18 points for the Vikings. Woods chipped in 16 and PSU had six players grab four or more rebounds. The Vikings now have road wins over both Montana and WSU.

PSU, the best offensive rebounding team in the country, again did its damage on the glass by hauling in 19 offensive boards. That helped the visitors to 12 more field goal attempts than WSU, erasing any advantage that came from the Wildcats’ 50-percent shooting night.

“They send a lot of guys to the glass. We talked about it all week leading up to this,” Braxton said. “We just talked about it and talked about it, and didn’t get it done tonight.”

Harding totaled 28 points to lead all scorers. Braxton added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Israel Barnes scored 10 points, making two of his teams four 3-pointers.

Chapman finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocks, coming one swat shy of tying the school’s single-game record for the second time in his career.

Weber State led 41-36 at halftime and went up 12 early in the second half, going on a 10-1 run when Barnes and Chapman each hit 3-pointers. But the lead slowly dissipated in the final 10 minutes.

“We’ve had this twice where we just didn’t have the same energy,” Rahe said, referring to a home loss to Southern Utah. “I have no problem with those other games, sometimes teams come back on you. But tonight, they were the aggressive team ... and we didn’t match their aggressiveness.”

The Wildcats regroup to host Sacramento State (9-9, 3-6) on Saturday. The Hornets defeated Idaho State 74-58 in Thursday’s only other Big Sky action.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!